Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board of trustees Place 5: Candidate Q&A

Candidates for the Grapevine-Colleyville School Board answer our questions. (Community Impact staff)
Candidates for the Grapevine-Colleyville School Board answer our questions. (Community Impact staff)

Candidates for the Grapevine-Colleyville School Board answer our questions. (Community Impact staff)

Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District

Board of trustees Place 5

Coley Canter

Occupation: part-time HR generalist; community volunteer; mom of three daughters

Experience: Glenhope Elementary: PTA president, Fall Fest auction chair, needs assessment chair, secretary, Fun Run chair; Cross Timbers Middle School: PTA president, teacher, student scholarship chair, needs assessment chair; Grapevine High School: student and teacher scholarship chair; GCISD Facility Innovation and Readiness Stakeholder Team (2015-16): a community team formed to study and prioritize ways to create the best possible learning environment for GCISD students; GCISD Stakeholders' Economic Action Team (2013), a community task force commissioned to assist the district with addressing the financial challenges the school district faced as a result of the state school funding system

Why are you running for office?

CC: I believe my 25 years of human resource experience and record of steadfast volunteer service to GCISD will bring value to school board decisions, and my service will provide a tremendous opportunity for me to give back to the school district that has served my family so well.

I am knowledgeable about the district's goals and strategic plan due to my extensive experience serving on PTA local and council boards, campus excellence committees and district community committees, and I pledge to continue learning everything I can in order the make GCISD the best it can be. I am wholeheartedly committed to this role. I can be trusted to serve all stakeholders—foremost, the heart of GCISD: the students.

What are the biggest challenges facing students in the school district? How do you plan to address these issues?

CC: My top priority is the growth and academic achievement of our students. Our diverse student population creates several unique challenges for our district. Developing innovative learning strategies will enhance the opportunity for every student to achieve academic excellence. I believe we have learned a lot through the rollout of ASPIRE and STEM and that these programs have ultimately enhanced learning opportunities for every student through the sharing of best practices throughout our district. We need to continue to vigorously identify and eliminate barriers that limit access to the exceptional opportunities our district provides. Safety and security continue to be a priority for our district. I believe that students cannot learn if they do not feel safe. As the threats of the last year identified opportunities to improve our current security systems, we also observed that the culture of safety is robust among our students and staff and that our students feel a strong obligation to protect their peers and their school. I would promote the continued pursuit of innovations, both structural and cultural, that would advance the safety and security of our students.

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

CC: Our GCISD residents closely monitor and rightly demand prudent use of taxpayer funds and resources. I will sponsor transparent accounting practices that promote accountability and taxpayer trust. Texas school finance is a complicated beast. GCISD will send a projected $50.1 million in recapture back to Austin this year. To further complicate matters, the state continues to mandate new programs that are often unfunded. While House Bill 3 provided numerous benefits, we need to continue to work closely with our state legislators to encourage greater local control of local tax dollars. My two decades of working at TDIndustries, an organization recognized as [one of the] Fortune Magazine "100 Best Places to Work For," leads me to believe that keeping GCISD a great place to work is essential to continued academic achievement. The district can leverage all income possibilities to support competitive teacher salaries and explore and implement innovative personnel programs, like recognition and enhanced community engagement, to create an engaged workforce dedicated to the vision of the district. I believe recruiting and retaining strong teachers, staff and administration in a competitive market with state-imposed budgetary constraints is one of the district's challenges. I support the district's efforts to continue accessing and measuring factors other than salary that can create a great place to work—[a] "destination district" for teachers and administrators.

What are some new ideas or programs you would like the school district to explore?

CC: I would love to see an increase in community partnerships developed to provide internship and mentoring opportunities for our students. The Certified Nursing Assistant Program provides is a great example of integrating community partners with curriculum and real-world experience. I think we can leverage the advantages of our vibrant business communities to create strong trade and career preparation programs in coordination with our Career and Technical Education [program] (CTE). For example, I know that many local construction industry leaders would gladly collaborate with our CTE instructors to mentor and prepare students for apprenticeship programs and lucrative careers in the trades. The same holds true for the many car dealerships [that] could team up with our automotive repair classes. I know that the hospitality and tourism staff at [Grapevine High School] are working with local hotel administrators to provide hands-on event planning experience. This kind of community cooperation truly provides the opportunity for students to prepare for post-secondary educational endeavors through relevant experiences and lasting relationships.

Lori Crenshaw

Occupation: independent STEM education consultant

Experience: chemist; teacher; instructional coach

Why are you running for office?

LC: I am running for this office because it is the natural next step in my career. I believe I can make an impact in education. Please feel free to visit my website:, my Facebook page or my Twitter: @studientka. They are all fully public.

Candidate Lori Crenshaw was unable to respond to an expanded inquiry provided by Community Impact Newspaper in October.

Tommy Snyder

Occupation: president and CEO

Experience: Previously, I worked for a real estate investment trust where I administrated the bond platforms and later assisted in the creation of processes that allowed us to restructure loans that were over-leveraged and underperforming. Currently, there are no members of the school board or any candidates running that have this expertise. I believe that my knowledge in the world of high finance and my expertise in running a company that over sees millions of dollars of assets secured by commercial mortgage-backed security bonds will allow me the valuable insight that is needed to not only look at way to restructure the $667 million dollars in debt that GCISD currently has, but allow me the operational capacity to assist in the oversight of the $250 million annual school district budget.

Why are you running for office?

TS: First, I am a parent, and like most parents in GCISD volunteering their time and efforts, [I want my] kids to have an excellent education. That education, although geared towards our students, has a lot of moving parts. As the CEO of a company, I have learned leadership means making tough decisions and directing limited budget dollars where they have the greatest impact. We should do the same with our schools. The priority should be working to improve our district’s academic performance across the board regardless of whether you have an honors, academically challenged or disabled student.

What are the biggest challenges facing students in the school district? How do you plan to address these issues?

TS: GCISD is a great school district. I believe that outside of helping our students get a great education, we need to keep them safe. School safety must be a priority in our schools. The 2016 bond election promised us $32 million dedicated to the security of our schools in the district, but less than 5% has been spent to date. We need to create a precise plan to implement efficient ways to keep our kids safe.

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

TS: Teachers' salaries, more resources in the classroom, the safety and security of our children and transparency at the school board level.

What are some new ideas or programs you would like the school district to explore?

TS: I would like to explore the possibilities of restructuring the current debt in the district. I believe that this would not only help up pay off our existing debt, but would allow for a tax reduction to our citizens and a reduction in the current Robin Hood recapture.

By Sandra Sadek
Sandra Sadek covers the cities of Grapevine, Southlake and Roanoke as well as Carroll ISD for Community Impact. She graduated from Texas State University where she majored in journalism and international relations. She has experience working for several local papers including the University Star, the Katy Times, and the Fort Stockton Pioneer. When she's not on the ground reporting, she enjoys a good book and a hot drink. Follow her on social media @ssadek19.


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